Saturday, June 15, 2019

"Anotherloverholenyohead" by Prince

Song#:  2800
Date:  07/19/1986
Debut:  86
Peak:  63
Weeks:  10
Genre:  R&B, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Prince's second single from his Parade album, "Mountains," wasn't a major hit. It stalled at #23 Pop and #15 R&B. The album doubled as the soundtrack to Prince's film Under a Cherry Moon and it would be a good seller going platinum. It could have sold better if it had more hits along the lines if its first single, the #1 "Kiss," yet "Mountains" and this third single couldn't maintain the momentum. This tune was able to crawl into the Top 20 at R&B (#18), but it was basically a flop at Pop. It couldn't even get into the top half of the chart. It would be Prince's lowest peaking single since 1981's "Controversy," which got to #70.

ReduxReview:  As I've mentioned before, Parade wasn't an album chock full of hooky singles like "Kiss." It was an eclectic set that was interesting as a whole, but several of the songs just didn't stand on their own. This one wasn't a terrible choice from the remaining tracks for single contention. The problem though was that it definitely had a heavier soul/funk sound and that wasn't going to win much favor at pop stations. Prince was a huge star at the time, but that didn't mean anything he released was going to be a hit. This one certainly demonstrated that if Prince wanted to continue to conquer all the charts, he needed to make a few more of his songs a bit more accessible for all ears. He professed that he didn't necessarily care about making hits and just wanted to grow as a musician and experiment, but c'mon. The guy had a huge ego and he knew he wouldn't be able to maintain his superstar status without hits. His next album would get him back into hit making mode. In the meantime, this tune was less than satisfactory as a single.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  In the UK, the second single from Parade was the funky track "Girls & Boys." It did well nearly cracking the Top 10 (#11). Yet in the States the label issued out "Mountains" instead. "Girls & Boys" would be relegated to the b-side of "Anotherloverholenyohead." The 12" single of the two songs would do well in clubs and it would be a double-sided entry at Dance getting to #21.


Friday, June 14, 2019

"Money's Too Tight (To Mention)" by Simply Red

Song#:  2799
Date:  07/19/1986
Debut:  87
Peak:  28
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  It took nearly a year for UK's Simply Red to finally win over a US audience. Back home they had limited success with four singles, but none of them got attention in the States. Their third UK single, "Holding Back the Years," was a bit of a dud upon release in 1985 getting to #51, but then a reissue of the song caught on and it got to #2. The tune was then issued in the US and it went on to become a #1 hit. Since none of their other singles charted in the US, it gave the label options for a follow-up. This track, which was their very first single in the UK (#13), was selected for release. It was able to crack the Pop Top 30, but it didn't get any further than that. It did better at Dance getting to #2. Although no further singles from their debut album Picture Book would reach the US charts, its two hits would make it reach #16 and go platinum.

ReduxReview:  This song is a bit of a lost soul classic (see below) and Simply Red basically does a pretty faithful cover of it. The production gets an upgrade, but Simply Red doesn't necessarily capture the grittiness of the original. These days the subject of the song (Reaganomics) is out of date, but parts of it still resonate. I wasn't a big fan of the tune when Simply Red put it out, but I do enjoy the groove even though the original was superior.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally written and recorded by US duo The Valentine Brothers. Their 1982 version reached #41 on the R&B chart. Originally from Columbus, Ohio, brothers John and Billy Valentine formed a duo in 1975. Their 1979 self-titled debut album didn't do anything, but their second album, First Take, featured this charting song along with a follow-up "Let Me Be Close to You" (#43 R&B). Their third album in 1984, Have a Good Time, contained what would be their biggest hit, "Lonely Nights" (#28 R&B). They would record one more album in 1987 before going off on their own career paths.


Thursday, June 13, 2019

"Oh, People" by Patti LaBelle

Song#:  2798
Date:  07/19/1986
Debut:  88
Peak:  29
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Pop, R&B

Pop Bits:  LaBelle scored the biggest hit of her solo career with the #1 Pop/#1 R&B "On My Own," a duet with Michael McDonald. The smash would drive her album, Winner in You, to #1 as well and it would become a platinum seller. To keep things rolling, this second single was issued out from the LP. The song did well at R&B getting to #7 becoming her seventh solo Top 10 on that chart. However, the tune didn't do quite as well at Pop and it stalled just inside the Top 30. Unfortunately, it would be LaBelle's last record to get inside the top half of the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  This was a pleasant, easy going mid-tempo song with a nice message, but I found it a bit boring. It was the album's opening track and as such it was fine, but I didn't think it was single material. The chorus is not all that memorable and it just kind of blends in with the verse instead of standing out on its own. The bright spot of course is LaBelle's vocals. She definitely tries her best to make something out of nothing and she comes out a winner. However, the song does not. I'm assuming the label didn't release the upbeat dance track "Something Special" as the second single because it was going to be used in a movie at the beginning of '87, but I think that song would have done better as a follow-up to "On My Own" than this one.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Two more singles would be issued out from LaBelle's album, but neither would reach the Pop chart. However they would do well on other charts. The third single, "Kiss Away the Pain," would do well at R&B getting to #13. A fourth single, "Something Special (Is Gonna Happen Tonight)," would get to #10 on the Dance chart while making a small impression at R&B (#50). That song gained a little attention due to its appearance in two films. It was actually considered the theme song to the hit 1987 comedy Outrageous Fortune, which starred Bette Midler and Shelley Long. It also could be heard in the 1986 Alan Alda comedy Sweet Liberty.


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

"Somebody Like You" by 38 Special

Song#:  2797
Date:  07/19/1986
Debut:  89
Peak:  48
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Southern Rock

Pop Bits:  The band's seventh album, Strength in Numbers, started out fairly well. Its first single, "Like No Other Night," went to #4 at Rock and #14 Pop. Unfortunately, things went a bit downhill after that. This next single made it to #6 at Rock, but it didn't get the same support at Pop and it stalled shy of the Top 40. Another track from the album, "Heart's on Fire," could only manage a #30 spot at Rock based on airplay. That result did not encourage the label to officially release the song and so the promotion of the LP stopped at the two minor singles, which affected sales of the album. It managed to reach #17 and go gold, but that was a distinct drop from the platinum level sales of their previous three albums.

ReduxReview:  Again, just like their previous single, this one is just fine. It's hooky, commercial rock that sounds akin to most other 38 Special songs. It's perfectly acceptable and it's an easy listen. The problem is that it just doesn't do anything to advance the band and it's too similar to their usual material. Because of that, nothing about it stands out and it ends up just blending in with their catalog. Listeners were tiring of the formula and I think the song's peak speaks to that. I was getting bored with them too.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  When this band formed in 1974, they didn't have a name yet. Four of the members had previously been in a band called Sweet Rooster, but when that group split in 1973 it seems the name went defunct as well. With their shot at fame on the line, the band needed a strong, memorable name. According to an interview with co-lead singer Don Barnes, they had originally picked Alice Marr, which they got from an encyclopedia. Alice Marr was a mythical ghost ship that was said to have been piloted by dead soldiers. The name wasn't really the best choice so they kept their ears open for something else. They ended up getting a new name following an incident with the police. Apparently, the band had rented an old abandoned auto parts warehouse for their rehearsal space. Because they had regular day jobs still and couldn't constantly setup/pack up/haul their gear all the time, they decided to use a big tractor trailer chain to lock up the building so they could leave everything there. Unfortunately, they lost the key to the lock and so when they wanted to rehearse they had to climb up to the top of the building and squeeze in through a small window. One night the band was rehearsing and after finishing a song they heard police outside yelling at them to come out. It seems someone had either made a noise complaint or heard the band in the abandoned shop and called the cops. The band had to tell the police that they couldn't easily come out because they lost the key to the padlock. They then overheard an officer say something like "I have a .38 special. I'll just shoot the thing off." When the band went to do their first show, they still weren't set on a name. Remembering the incident, they decided to use .38 Special. It ended up sticking.


Tuesday, June 11, 2019

"Walk Like a Man" by Mary Jane Girls

Song#:  2796
Date:  07/12/1986
Debut:  74
Peak:  41
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Pop, R&B, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  This Rick James-assembled vocal quartet scored their second gold LP in a row with 1985's Only Four You. It featured their biggest hit, the #7 Pop/#3 R&B track "In My House." That success led to the women recording their third album that was tentatively titled Sweet Conversations. Among the tracks recorded for the LP was this cover tune (see below). It would end up being on the soundtrack to the Ted Danson/Howie Mandel comedy film A Fine Mess. The song would be pushed out as the second single from the soundtrack album (the first single was "A Fine Mess" by The Temptations, which got to #63 R&B/#28 AC). It was moderately successful on the Pop chart just missing out on the Top 40 at the dreaded #41 spot. At R&B the tune could only manage a brief showing at #91. In addition to the single not doing all that well, it seemed there were some behind the scenes struggles between James, the quartet, and Motown (the group was on Motown's Gordy label). In the end, the album was shelved, James and Motown lost interest in the group, and the Mary Jane Girls would split in 1987. This single would be their final release and last one to chart.

ReduxReview:  It seems that Motown got the rights to release the soundtrack to A Fine Mess, so of course for some tracks they sought out artists from the label to record/submit songs, such as Mary Jane Girls. A few of the tracks for the film were remakes of older tunes and someone had the bright idea of getting Rick James to produce this song with MJG. While the idea of a female vocal group covering a hit by a male vocal group was kind of interesting, this one didn't work all that well. The lyrics were adjusted to change the perspective, which made it a bit awkward. It wasn't just simply changing he to she or him to her. The whole viewpoint of the song had to change. Then the tune was shoved into a typical James production that was just okay. There was nothing special about it and even the added sax solo at the end was bordering on bland. Although not necessarily bad, it wasn't great either. It was just...meh.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) This is a remake of a song originally recorded by The 4 Seasons. The 1963 single would become that group's third #1 in a row on the Pop chart. It was co-written by group member Bob Gaudio along with their producer Bob Crewe. Many artists have covered the song, but Mary Jane Girls are the only other ones to get a version on the Pop chart.  2) After MJG broke up, group member Yvette Marine went on to be a singer for demos and jingles. She also did some backing vocal work for a few artists including an as-yet unknown singer named Paula Abdul. According to Marine, she was paid to sing backing vocals on a few tracks and also supply a lead guide vocal, which would then be replaced later by Abdul's lead vocal. However, after the 1988 release of Abdul's hit debut album, Marine began to claim that on some tracks her vocal take was either partially used as the lead vocal or blended with Abdul's to beef up her vocal take. Marine had been trying unsuccessfully on her own to get lead vocal credit and compensation for her work, but she was basically ignored. In 1991, Marine sued Abdul's record label, Virgin, in order to get the issue resolved. After a trial in 1993, a jury unanimously voted to reject Marine's claim. That result basically said that all of Abdul's lead vocals on her LP Forever Your Girl were 100% hers.


Monday, June 10, 2019

"Love of a Lifetime" by Chaka Khan

Song#:  2795
Date:  07/12/1986
Debut:  85
Peak:  53
Weeks:  12
Genre:  R&B, Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  Khan hit it big as a solo artist when her Prince-penned 1984 single "I Feel for You" made it to #3 Pop (#1 R&B/#1 Dance). Her album of the same name would be a platinum seller and expectations were high for her follow-up. Apparently, no expense was spared for the project as it boasted at least nine producers and over twenty-four songwriters. Arif Mardin, who oversaw I Feel for You, would be on board again to executive produce the new project titled Destiny. To get the ball rolling, this first single from the LP was issued out. It was co-written and co-produced by Scritti Politti members Green Gartside and David Gamson. Unfortunately, the song just didn't fully catch fire and it stalled early at R&B (#21) while not even cracking the top half of the Pop chart. A remix of the tune did a bit better at Dance getting to #11. It was not a great start to the album and to make matters worse, this would be the only song from the album to reach the Pop chart. Without a major hit to promote it, the LP stopped at #72 on the Pop chart and #25 at R&B. It would fail to even reach gold level sales.

ReduxReview:  As the old saying goes - too many cooks... Everyone involved just tried way too hard to make the album a hit. It was all so forced and inconsistent. None of the songs were actually bad, but none rose to the dizzying heights of "I Feel for You." This tune was fine. Gartside and Gamson's blue-eyed soul mixed with dance-pop wouldn't have been out of place on Madonna's True Blue album, but it just seemed underwhelming for a vocalist like Chaka Khan. It just didn't give her a chance to shine. In fact, the whole album had a lot of modern technical wizardry that almost made Khan's voice secondary. In the end, this song just wasn't very memorable and it practically sank the album.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Although this song was the first official single from the album, another track on the LP had already been released as a single. Khan recorded the song "The Other Side of the World" for the soundtrack to the film White Nights. It was released earlier in '86 as the second single from the soundtrack. The song was written by Genesis member/Mike + the Mechanics leader Mike Rutherford along with B.A. Robertson. The tune failed to make the Pop chart but did make a brief appearance on the R&B chart at #81.  2) Two more singles would be released from the album. "Tight Fit" would make it to #28 at R&B and "Earth to Mickey" would scrape the chart at #93.


Sunday, June 9, 2019

"Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone)" by Glass Tiger

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2794
Date:  07/12/1986
Debut:  86
Peak:  2
Weeks:  24
Genre:  Rock, Pop

Pop Bits:  This Canadian band initially formed in 1983 as Tokyo. After gaining a following and opening up for acts like Culture Club, the band was signed to Capitol Records. They changed their name to Glass Tiger and began working on a debut album with producer/songwriter Jim Vallance (of Bryan Adams fame). This first single, co-written by Vallance and two of the band's members (Alan Frew/Sam Reid), was issued out in Canada early in '86. It would top the chart there in March. The success of the single prompted a release in the States with the Capitol associated Manhattan label. It took a while for the tune to catch on, but it finally did and made its way into the Top 10 peaking just shy of the top spot. Their associated album, The Thin Red Line, would end up being one of the fasting selling LPs up to that point in Canada. In the States it would make it to #27 and go gold. Grammy folks noticed the band and later handed them a Best New Artist nomination.

ReduxReview:  I didn't much care for this shuffle song back in the day. I didn't hate it, but I wasn't a fan. With Vallance's involvement in the writing and production, it sounded like something he and Bryan Adams would have written for another artist (meaning it wasn't good enough for Adams to record himself). That said, it is a perfectly serviceable pop tune. It's got a hooky chorus and the production is neat and clean. Folks loved it enough to take it to #2, which is fine. I just thought it was meh.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Do you recognize a voice in the background on this song? It's none other than fellow Canadian Bryan Adams. Thanks to Vallance's association with the star, Adams stepped in to lend some vocals for two tracks on the band's album. Adams' career was hot at the time thanks to his massively successful Reckless album, so having him as a guest on this song gave it an extra boost.